The CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses has reacted with disappointment to the many unanswered questions that remain following the publication of the consultation on future farming policy by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs today (27 February).
The long-anticipated consultation paper is the pre-cursor to promised legislation that is required to manage the transition of the UK’s farming industry out of the EU and the Common Agricultural Policy.
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: "We are up for change; we can do better than the existing EU farming policy. We can make our industry more productive and more profitable and we can deliver world-leading standards in animal welfare and environmental protection. But to do this we need certainty and time to plan. That is what we were promised and instead we have open questions, few decisions and no answers.
"In just over a year from now we will be leaving the EU. Love it or hate it, the EU has shaped the way we farm, provided most of our customers and been a source of vital income for thousands of businesses.
"Our businesses can thrive outside the EU but we need to make plans, to adapt where necessary, and to invest where possible. Government has a responsibility to provide clarity and as greater certainty as it is possible to give. We will be asking Ministers for urgent answers on when they will deliver this.
"The consultation sets out important areas where decisions are needed: how can we manage an effective transition out of the current system, how long should it be? If money is to be removed, how much and from whom? Our message is that in the short-term, only money that is clearly necessary for transitional measures should be taken out of the system, and no business, no matter how wealthy its owners are perceived to be, should face sudden and dramatic cuts.
"In a few months the Government will bring forward legislation that will set the direction for the next generation of farming and land management. It has promised a bold vision for a profitable industry which can deliver environmental management, one we consistently have supported. But it is the detail, not the words, that will define farming's future and this is still seriously lacking."